Two Koreas confirm talks to discuss family reunions
A South Korean man walks past a logo of the Red Cross at its office in Seoul on August 22, 2013. Red Cross officials from the two Koreas will hold talks as planned Friday in resuming cross-border family reunions after the North finally agreed to the South's choice of venue.
In a message Thursday, Pyongyang dropped its request for the meeting to be held at its Mount Kumgang resort and agreed to the South's choice of the border truce village of Panmunjom, where the ceasefire ending hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War was signed.
The North wants to re-start long-suspended South Korean tours to Mount Kumgang and its suggestion of holding the reunion talks at the resort was seen as a bid to link the two issues.
Seoul is adamant that they remain separate.
Millions of Koreans were separated from other family members by the Korean War and have since died without having had any contact with their relatives on the other side of the border.
A reunion programme began in 2000 following an historic inter-Korean summit, but was suspended in late 2010 after North Korea's shelling of a South Korean border island.
Some 72,000 South Koreans -- nearly half of them aged over 80 -- are still alive and on a waiting list to participate in one of the highly competitive reunion events that select only a few hundred participants each time.
Last week, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye personally appealed to the North to "open its heart" and agree to a resumption of the reunions in time for next month's Chuseok (Thanksgiving) holiday.
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